I think many of you may have heard that the FLBA (Family Law Bar Association) have written to the Government requesting that there be a review of advocacy within family law, and making it fairly obvious that their steer is that solicitors should be discouraged from doing it and that only the Bar is really competent to do it.
If you haven’t seen it, I’ll link to it here (you need PDF skillz to read it, sorry if that shuts you out) http://flba.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/16july15lettertosvmp.pdf
There’s much of it that is very sensible – absolutely the stakes are high in public law cases and it is vital that those who are being represented are receiving that representation from people who are both confident and capable. If people, particularly parents, are not being well represented and points that ought to be taken are not being pursued, then that’s something that needs to be stopped.
And the points that are made that a financial element has pushed solicitors who would rather not be doing advocacy into having to do it to keep their firms afloat, are I think well made. It must be wrong that a lawyer is tackling work which they feel is beyond them because the only viable business model at present is one where a family lawyer does lots and lots of their own advocacy. You have to have a system in place where a solicitor who feels that the case requires a degree of experience and advocacy that is more than they possess is able to instruct counsel without feeling that the case has become as a result unprofitable.
However, I can also see that some of the underlying tone of the document creeps into what I trust is an unintentional assumption that the Bar is never guilty of the poor advocacy described here whereas it must be ‘par for the course’ for Solicitors; the elements of “two legs bad, four legs good” are not attractive. I’m not sure that divide and rule is the best strategy in these difficult times for both branches of the profession.
*If the FLBA do want to do use as their telephone hold music, a reworking of Shabba Ranks finest hour so that it goes “Mister Loverman, FLBA” they are welcome to implement that idea…